Anyone here read, like, dislike Bertrand Russell?

I have a great deal of respect for his efforts to promote peace and his honesty about religious beliefs at a time when such beliefs were very uncommonly expressed.

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I'm reminded of an alien I saw in the Star Wars IV, when Luke entered the bar.

I'm not really a "fan" of Bertrand Russell however I have read some of his writings in Philosophy class of course. It's been awhile though.  Maybe it would be more "interesting" this time around with it being outside of the realm of studies.

I have his wonderful 'Why I am Not a Christian' in one of my bedside stacks. I have enjoyed it but have lately been choosing Michael Onfray's "The Atheist Manifesto' instead. I ought to just pick one and stick with it.  Did you know John Stuart Mill was his godfather? 

I did. Can you imagine growing up with access to those kind of minds? Very fortunate man. He had an interesting, though sort of sad childhood apparently. Educated by private tutors, spending his teenage years rather isolated but in deep self directed study, which sounds great but must have been lonely. And he lost both his parents at a young age.

I havent read Onfray's book, but I noticed he is French and I live in France--so My library may have it. Glad you mentioned that book.

Have you read Hitchens' The Portable Atheist?

I wish there were more female authors on the subject of Rational Thinking and the destructive nature of Dogma. I think a feminine perspective is needed and may bring a more inclusive tone to the discussion. Atheism as a term even detracts from how inclusive and positive the perspective ultimately is. Have you seen the Skepchics website?

Onfray is definitely worth hunting down. I suspect you won't have much trouble finding this book -- I hear he is well-respected in France. His writing is beautiful, deep and essential -- all at the same time. He has a way of ending paragraphs of complex reasoning with zingers - a sweet reward for staying with the argument. (My first favorite is: "In other words, (religion is) life crucified and nothingness exalted"). Once I realized he was doing this, reading him became a treasure hunt!

Yes, I've read all of Hitchens, including 'Arguably' (just released) and also Harris, most of Dawkins and some of Dennet's, Ehrman's and Darwin's books! I love them all and have re-read most of them at least once. 

I agree with your remark on female authors -- I think the female gender suffers most from not having a presence in the genre. Although, Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book 'Infidel' has given us an apt role model. I can't think of any others...

Haven't seen Skepchics. I'll look it up. Thanks for the reference!

Yes, yes great reads! I have not yet purchased arguably but probably will when I visit the states this winter. Still sort of old fashioned and like the feel of paper books. Do you recommend it? I recall it is a compilation of all his essays, no? Is it huge? Always concerned about luggage weight...

BTW, there is a recent female author who's name and book title escape me and now I cant find it--somethig about how Reason benefits humanity. I think she is on Standford faculty. Ring any bells by chance?

Again, it would be nice to have more female voices since women tend to be more group thinkers and inclusive--looking for common ground. Some of the tones of the Four Horse Men put people off to the message. And there has not been enough discussions, that I have seen at least, about how to meet people's needs to connect, which is a lot of why people go to church, dont you think?

It is a heavy tome. Have you tried audio books? Virtually weightless! Or a Kindle?

Yes, 'Arguably' is a compilation of his essays and covers a wild variety of topics. I took it cover-to-cover but the essays are great for an hour here and there well spent.

I can't think of the author you mention. Another hint...?! Regarding "enough discussion" there is a wonderful organization that presents and live-streams debates - Intelligence Squared I think you'll find their archives very interesting.

Ugh. Yes, but then Copyright restrictions wont let me download in France! I bought the first sony ebook that came out years ago, but made the mistake of buying the hardware in the US and had to wait for trips back to make purchases! Silly, but tat's how the licenseswere negotiated I guess. I have an ipad now and can buy from itunes-bought Dawkins Magic of Reality for my kids! Great book and really fun for them to do the interactive stuff. Have you seen that book yet?

But i am sort of old fashioned and love to have the goid refernce type books in paper, hardcover form. Hitchens certainly qualifies for books I hope to keep as part of a library.

Thanks for the link. I will check it out; always looking for something to spice up dull house tasks. Do you watch

I found that book by a female author that I was trying to remember in the earlier post above.

Knocking on Heaven's Door, by Lisa Randall

Haven't read it, but looks interesting.  Have you read or heard of it?


Description from NY Times below:

Lisa Randall is a professor of physics at Harvard and one of the more original theorists at work in the profession today. In the fancifully titled “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” her second book for a popular audience, she has two avowed aims: first, to explain where physics might be headed now that the Large Hadron Collider — the enormous particle accelerator on the Swiss-French border — is finally up and running; and second, to air her views on the nature of science, its fraught relations with religion, and the role of beauty as a guide to scientific truth. Her book thus alternates between the nitty-gritty of particle physics and meditations of a more rarefied sort. Stitching the whole thing together are passages recounting the author’s globe-trotting adventures: accepting the key to the city from the mayor of Padua, chatting up a scientifically curious actor on a flight to Los Angeles, attending the Barcelona premiere of an opera about physics for which she had written the libretto.

I have read Russell's work "The Conquest of Happiness", and I thought it was brilliant.


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